Moa harvests global deal for new herbicide

Agricultural biotech firm Moa Technology has signed a research and commercial partnership with Nufarm, a global crop protection firm based in Melbourne, Australia, to help tackle the serious and increasing threat to crop harvests from weed resistance to herbicides.

Moa has discovered several promising novel herbicidal mode of action areas with its breakthrough biology platform, which are currently in field trials in the US, UK, France and Spain. The deal will provide Nufarm exclusive access to a product in one of these, which it will help develop and commercialise. In return, Moa will receive upfront payments, milestone development payments and eventual royalties from sales of the herbicide, which could be the first broad spectrum agricultural herbicide with a novel mode of action to enter the market in almost forty years. Nufarm will also exclusively retain the option to commercialise other Moa compounds from the same mode of action area.

Together Moa and Nufarm will be responsible for steering the new product through the next phase of research, expected to take around two years, while Nufarm will lead the final phases of development and go-to-market.

Spun out of Oxford University in 2017, Moa has developed a proprietary biological platform to discover a whole new generation of synthetic and bio-herbicidal compounds based on novel modes of action, to provide farmers with safe, cost-effective, technologically-advanced solutions at a pace weeds cannot match. In the last three years, Moa’s platform has already screened over 750,000 compounds and discovered 60 promising novel modes of action areas, with multiple candidates already in field trials after successfully completing laboratory validation and glasshouse testing.

Commenting on the deal, Moa Technology CEO Dr. Virginia Corless said: “This agreement is further validation of our unique capability to find new herbicidal modes of action at an unprecedented rate and optimise them into viable candidates for commercialisation. Our talented team is working hard to provide new options to help farmers to grow food sustainably, and that means finding forward-looking partners like Nufarm who share our vision and want to work with us on the next stages of development and commercialization.”

Commenting on the deal, Nufarm Group Executive Portfolio Solutions, Rico Christensen said: “Nufarm is transforming agriculture by bringing new innovative crop protection and seed solutions to farmers. This agreement with Moa is another important milestone which will potentially bring new mode of action herbicides to help address the challenge of resistant weeds which are estimated to cost farmers billions every year.”

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